How much money would you take home if you
played a version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
where all the questions were about Coney Island?
Of course you would breeze to $1,000 with simple questions about the Cyclone and Nathan’s, but you’d probably start using your lifelines left and right when asked what year the first roller coaster was built or who invented the hotdog.
Well, you better phone a friend because here’s something else you probably don’t know: On Saturday, July 21, from noon to 9 pm, Brooklyn’s southernmost tip will be the site of the first annual Siren Music Festival, featuring performances, art exhibits, games, food, movie screenings and of course, lots and lots of live music.
The Siren Music Festival is free to all, and all ages are invited. A portion of the proceeds from the festival will go to Coney Island USA, the non-profit organization serving and preserving the Coney Island experience, as well as to the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce.
As the name Siren Music Festival clearly states, the centerpiece of this extravaganza by the sea is music, and the bill is an indie rocker’s dream come true. Forget about the Warp Tour or any other Johnny-come-lately festival full of jock-core sellouts. If you want to see performances by some of the best artists modern rock has to offer, check out Siren’s Main Stage, located at 10th Street and Surf Avenue, starting at 1 pm.
Headlining the show at 7:30 pm will be New York’s own, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, whose energetic live performances always prove that the band is aptly named. Frontman Spencer tears up the stage, snarling into the microphone; constantly invoking the band’s name like a holy roller preaching the gospel. Terrifying yet beautiful noises emanate from his guitar and theremin, while guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simmins round out the band’s funk and blues-infused punk. If you have yet to experience the soul-shattering power of the JSBX be sure to take advantage of this free show to check them out.
Superchunk and Guided By Voices, two bands that played major roles in the creation of the indie rock genre, will also be appearing on the Siren Main Stage. For more than 10 years, these two bands have been consistently delivering album after album of riff-heavy power pop, and neither shows any sign of slowing down.
GBV recently released "Isolation Drills," one of their most contemplative and emotional albums to date, while Superchunk is getting ready to go back into the studio to record the follow-up to 1999’s "Come Pick Me Up." They may have been around awhile, but GBV (6 pm) and Superchunk (5 pm) can still teach the young’uns a thing or two.
Coney Island will be the perfect setting to have a first or third close encounter with Auburn, Ala.’s alien geniuses, Man or Astro-man?. Their unique blend of sci-fi surf rock is like a bizarre genetic experiment that splices the DNA of Dick Dale with that of Ed Wood.
"Playing in the daytime is a little out of context for us," MOA-M’s drummer Birdstuff told GO Brooklyn, referring to their 4 pm slot on the Main Stage. "We usually perform with light shows, pyrotechnics and dancing bears, so we’ll have to do something different."
"I am really excited about doing this show," he said. "Coney Island is one of those mystical landmarks I’ve always wanted to experience. The festival has a great lineup, and I’m excited to see and hear everyone. But I’m really hoping to sneak away to ride the Cyclone."
And if you are such a diehard indie rocker that JSBX, Superchunk, GBV and MOA-M aren’t enough music for you, emo darlings, Rainer Maria, are also scheduled to play on the Main Stage (at 2:30 pm), along with Quasi (3:15 pm), Peaches (1:45 pm), Enon (1 pm) and The Black Heart Procession (6:45 pm at Sideshows by the Seashore, 3006 12th St. at Surf Avenue). (Better show up early though, some of the bands might be selling special tour-only, limited-edition 7 inches.)
But perhaps none of the aforementioned music interests you. Maybe you left indie rock behind when they handed you your college diploma and now you only listen to obscure sub-genres of electronica like techstep or IDM. Don’t worry, you may still be in luck.
Although the Siren Music Festival will not have a 24-hour rave party with six tents and 47 DJ’s, it will have plenty of other entertainment. One of the festival’s non-musical highlights will be a performance by The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus (3:15 pm; Sideshows by the Seashore). The Bindlestiffs combine imagination, fascination and contemplation into a one-of-a-kind show in the spirit of Coney Island and vaudeville. They have been known to concoct spectacles recommended only for adults, but in lieu of the Siren Music Fest’s all-ages billing perhaps they will make this one fun for the whole family.
In addition to the Bindlestiffs, there will also be performances by such cabaret acts and circus troupes as The Murray Hill Show, Jackie 60, Anti-Gravity, The Hungry March Band, The Pontani Sisters and The Lounge-O-Leers, as well as carnival gaming exhibits by national and local artists, food trucks, vendor booths and a screening of the documentary, "Punk Rock/Heavy Metal Karaoke - The Movie."
Siren Music Fest events
The Siren Music Festival takes place Saturday, July 21, from noon to 9 pm, between 10th and 12th streets on Surf Avenue. These events are free.
10th Street at Surf Avenue
1 pm: Enon
1:45 pm: Peaches
2:30 pm: Rainer Maria
3:15 pm: Quasi
4 pm: Man or Astro-Man?
5 pm: Superchunk
6 pm: Guided by Voices
7:30 pm: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
3 pm - 8 pm: DJ Sodapop Solana and DJ Nicky Z
Sideshows by the Seashore
3006 12th St. at Surf Avenue
1 pm: Carol Lipnik and Spookarama
2 pm: The Murray Hill Show
3:15 pm: The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
5 pm: Jackie 60 Further
6:45 pm: The Black Heart Procession
8 pm: "Punk Rock/ Heavy MetalKaraoke The Movie"
3008 12th St. at Surf Avenue
3 pm: SXIP
4 pm: Jazz Beard, Jr.
5 pm: The Tim Heidecker Master
6 pm: The Lounge-O-Leers
7 pm: The Incredible Moses Leroy